It was 1st of May when Johhan picked me up from work in Makati and decided to have late lunch in Binondo. Anlayo diba?! We rode a jeepney going to Manila Cathedral where we can have our ride going back home. Johhan informed me about the new look of Fort Santiago which caused us, actually it was just me, to go and check it out. It was already 7pm and I was really torn if we will head back home or spend a little time to explore the area, I need to wake up early the next day since I’am in morning shift that time. But at the end, I was pursued by his words and ended up walking towards the new gate of Fort Santiago. We walked around and I was mesmerized by the new lighting of the area. Time is running out and we really need to head back home. We promised that we will go back and explore the new look of the place and check out the newly opened, The Dungeons.
It was the 6th of the same month on which we set for our Historical Tour in Manila. Actually, we also planned to visit Planetarium that time but we came late for the last show. Instead of being sad, we walked around Luneta and had the chance to see the ongoing process of building the National Museum of Natural History. Though I’ve been into National Museum of Fine Arts, the one with the old building, I’ve never checked out the other museum which is the National Museum of Anthropology. I will surely give myself a break to see this two when Natural History opens.
From Luneta, we walked the street of General Luna going to Intramuros and to be honest, I can still feel the same the first time I step my feet on that place. Pero in fairness, ang layo niya and nandoon pa din si Kuyang nagbebenta nang jelly worms 😂. Seeing the old buildings and walls brought back the Spanish era within me. Questions in my head start to appear and thanks to my buddy/personal tour guide for answering all my questions.
We passed by first to a place which I consider as one of the hidden gems of Intramuros. It was the Puerta Real Garden.
“Puerta” is a Spanish word for a door and Puerta Real is one of the oldest gates in Intramuros. It was said that the gate is exclusively for Governor-General and Archbishops for state occasions during the Spanish era. You need to pass by the REVELLIN DE PUERTA REAL DE BAGUMBAYAN which was used as the outer defense before the PUERTA REAL. Walking a few steps from the main entrance, you will see the said gate on your right side but sad to say, it was closed since the other side of the road is already the Muralla St.
There is no entrance fee and all you have to do is to write your name on their logbook, maybe for their monitoring purposes and you can freely go inside. Aside from the gate itself, if you’re a nature lover, you will truly enjoy the place like I do. Cobblestone pavements and plenty of plants made the area alive and refreshing. It has a picturesque view and I honestly just want to sit there and relax. I think that’s one of the main reason why there are many photographers around having their photo shoot. If you’ll take a photo within the open space of the area, your background will be the building of DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) and PLM (Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila).
If you will explore the area more, you will see a pathway going to one of the walls of Intramuros and from there, you will have the view Intramuros Golf Club and a flagpole which marks the Luneta Park. They said that the golf club was a former part of the Manila Bay and was just reclaimed. We had some shots around the area and walked going to Fort Santiago.
We continued walking the street of General Luna until we reached Fort Santiago.
Unlike before, the entrance is on the left side and exit on the other side. The gates were newly refurbished and they totally bring out the beauty of its details. The entrance fee is worth Php 75.00 but if you’re a student, just bring your valid school ID and you will surely have the discounted price.
As you enter the place, you will see the new look of Plaza Moriones. The garden before entering the Fort Santiago proper was changed into a beautiful landscape. Though the place does not yet finish, you will definitely see the difference from the past. It seems that they combined the modern and Spanish era just to preserve and keep the historical place. There’s also a marking stone on where Fort Santiago was written. I do really admire the walkway in the center which as you walk by, you will see the Arch of the Fort Santiago on its best view. The thing which made me curious is the type of flooring they used. It seems that the flooring is too modern on the place and it absorbs more heat, thinking that they lessen the trees around. The adobe and brick walls of the area were quite too far from the flooring which was used. However, I’m hoping that they add more trees to the area to produce more shades since we’re in a tropical country and some chairs, please. 😀
Once you entered the Fort Santiago proper, the first thing you will see is the metal footsteps. These metal footsteps were used as the representation of Jose Rizal’s final walk from his prison cell going to the actual execution. Some of the footsteps are already missing or either loose already. I think these footsteps deserve a renovation. Don’t ask me how many footsteps are there because my personal tour guide doesn’t know as well. ✌
Aside from checking out the new Plaza Moriones’ facade, we visited the place quite early to check the “The Dungeons” which was opened just this year. The Dungeons is open until 6:00PM and there are precautionary measures you need to read before entering the underground chamber.
The Dungeons was also known as Hole of Death because during the World War II, Japanese era, it was used as a prison cell for American and Filipino prisoners who were died because of suffocation and hunger. A small hole indicates the entrance of the chamber and it is quite cold inside. My personal tour guide and I accepted the challenge and enter the Dungeon without hesitations. There are different chambers inside and due to curiosity, I asked the guard, who is walking with us, some questions. He told us that when they opened the chamber, they found many skeletal bodies in the different places of the area. He even pointed out on where they found one together with the different type of guns they saw. To be honest, the area is quite plain. All you need to do inside is to walk and check each window where it was leading to. We were informed that they will be adding more spice to attract tourists like putting some faked skeletal bodies around the place. You can walk inside in less than 10-15 mins and you’ll go out on a small hole as well, facing the Pasig River. The other parts of the Fort Santiago are under renovation, maybe because of the fallen adobe walls on the hidden part of the place.
Next, we visited is the newly opened and renovated POSTIGO DE LA NUESTRA SENORA DEL SOLEDAD.
It was a fort which leads to Pasig River. That was my first time to check the place because it was closed during the year I visited the place. When you want to appreciate the beauty of the old walls of Manila together with the skyline of Binondo, this is the place where you should go. Pasig River is just in front of you, the air, though contaminated because of the toxins found in the river, is a must to visit. I do hope they placed benches around the area for those people who want to appreciate the beauty of Pasig River.
We saw Mr. Carlos Celdran having his free walking tour in the area and spent a little time listening to his tour with foreigners who has the interest to know our history.
It’s getting late but we still had the chance to checked out the building where the late Senator Elpidio Quirino was imprisoned for 16 days. Quite creepy but I let my personal tour guide took the picture because he wanted me to do it.
I took some shots the moment night strikes in as the lights start to bring the life around the area. I really enjoyed the fountain spouting on the floor with different light colors. I’m asking for a wider place for the fountain but I still enjoy it though. If you’ll just visit the Plaza Moriones and don’t have any plans in checking the Fort Santiago Museum and the Dungeons, I recommend that you should visit the place at night. Thanks to the lighting that caused my heart to totally fell in love with Fort Santiago.
Before going home, obviously, I did not let myself not to passed by the Manila Cathedral. This church really got my heart and I will always be forever in love with her.
And this is for my buddy/personal tour guide for that day. Thank you for answering ALL my questions. Sorry if I even let you think the things I’ve asked due to my intense curiosity.